Scar removal (also known as scar repair) is generally a matter of laser treatment or surgery. But did you know that you can soften and even dissipate scar tissue via traditional Chinese medicine? It’s true! And the benefit of this approach is two-fold: not only do you diminish your scar but you also bolster your health beneath the surface layer too.
It sounds like magic but it’s not; instead, it’s the wonder of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). There’s so much this ancient practice can do for you and yes, one of the hidden gems of TCM is that a practitioner can work on your scars. It depends on a few factors, like training and experience, and not all scars are amenable to repair, but you’d be surprised at what we can do for you.
Myself? I had a plastic surgeon watch me demo a scar removal gua sha treatment once–completely on the fly at a beauty event–and his jaw dropped when he saw what I could do. He was truly amazed. But I have spent the past three years practicing traditional Chinese bodywork therapy, including my signature no-needle facial rejuvenation treatments. It does take practice to get good at scar revision. Training is not everything. It also requires a certain appreciation for detail work.
A brief digression on scars. A scar happens when an injury hasn’t healed properly and the tissue has developed fibrous connective tissue in place of the original skin layers. The injury can be chronic–as with acne–or there could be damage due to a burn or other wound. Some scars are in easy places to fix and others are not. A scar can be flat or it can be keloid (lumpy and larger than the original scar). It really depends, and these factors, in turn, determine the degree to which your scar can be resolved.
So… What can traditional Chinese medicine do about scars? There are two main treatment strategies:
First is acupuncture, which can break down the fibers and allow new tissue to replace it. In my experience, this is great for scars. I had a situation, for example, where the person had a surgical scar and the skin was so hard that my supervisor had to insert the needles (this was back during student clinic). After several treatments, the surface became nice and soft and the scar itself was once again the color of their normal skin. When they went back to the surgeon’s office for a follow-up appointment, the surgeon–not knowing about my acupuncture treatment–remarked on how wonderful the scar looked. This was early on in my student intern career and it really inspired me to work on scars.
We might also rely on gua sha, a treatment that is less well known than acupuncture. I wrote a long blog post on the topic of aesthetic gua sha, here, so the short version is that this treatment, which consists of light scraping across oiled skin, can be truly amazing for stretch marks, scars, and other issues. As I mention in the linked blog post, you really want someone who is trained if you go with gua sha as your approach of choice for scar resolution.
The extra benefit of working on your scar via TCM? We’re holistic. I’m interested in the surface and I do want to make your outer layer look its best possible, of course. But a healthy person has healthy skin and if I can put together an acupuncture treatment that works on your scar AND your constitution, I’m giving you an excellent treatment. If I give you gua sha and an herbal prescription or other health support, I really am helping you to heal from the inside out. And if what you really need is support as you decide whether or not to leave the scar alone, I can help you with that, too (check here for that conversation).
Though not all acupuncturists are experienced in treating scars with gua sha, most are able to treat you with needles. If you’re not sure where to start, check web sites and look for things like cosmetic treatments or a mention of dermatology. Of course, if you’re in Austin or nearby, come see me and let’s discuss your situation and see what can be done to resolve it. TCM is great for holistic care of both your scar and yourself. Try it, and see!
Two Hearts Wellness is a local holistic health and wellness outfit with a passion for all things nourishing, including but not limited to: joyful living, great food, art, and literature, and–of course–traditional Chinese medicine. If you want to learn more about me, click here and do feel free to follow my blog and/or my Instagram, connect with me on Facebook, or contact me here to set up an appointment for health coaching services. If you are interested in acupuncture, herbs, and/or Asian bodywork therapy, click here to book an appointment online.
Acupuncture is great for you but if you’re nervous about needles there are certainly other options. Have you ever thought to try traditional Chinese bodywork? In addition to acupuncture, I offer tui na (similar to massage) and other ancient Chinese therapies, including cupping, gua sha, moxa, and more. If you are looking for a holistic wellness consultant and coach, my services can entail short or longer term programs. You are your own best investment, and when you take charge of your wellbeing you invest in yourself now and for the benefit of your future.
Note: Material on this web site is not intended to replace your treatment or care provided by an MD. It is for educational/entertainment purposes only. A TCM practitioner in Texas identifies syndrome patterns but does not diagnose illness. Always consult your primary care doctor for health concerns.